The Stack Archive

1,600 digital beating human hearts stored for Big Data research

Thu 19 Feb 2015

Doctors in London are now able to access digital copies of thousands of human hearts, helping medical professionals across the industry develop new treatments and preventative care plans for chronic heart disease.

3D video recordings of the beating hearts of 1,600 patients were collected by researchers and scientists at the Medical Research Council’s Clinical Sciences Centre at Hammersmith Hospital.

Referring to traditional clinical trials, which only produce small amounts of health information over several years, the researchers hope that the new project will provide an important tool for the medical sector, having collected genetic information at such a comparatively large scale.

Dr Declan O’Regan, who is involved in the heart study, said that there is “a really complicated relationship between people’s genes and heart disease and we are still trying to unravel what that is.

“But by getting really clear 3D pictures of the heart, we hope to be able to get a much better understanding of the cause and effect of heart disease and give the right patients, the right treatment, at the right time.”

Scientists hope to use the detailed data to compare the hearts and discover trends and inconsistencies which may shine a light on common factors that could lead to heart disease.

“There are often subtle signs of early disease that are really difficult to pick up even if you know what to look for,” said Dr O’Regan. “A computer is very sensitive to picking up subtle signs of a disease before they become a problem,” he continued.

Big data has made a huge impact in the business world for many years, but with storage prices falling and improved analytics tools; the field has more recently enjoyed smooth crossovers into many other sectors such as healthcare.

New analytics research is producing detailed insight into medical issues such as chronic disease and system costs. However, according to IBM, 80% of healthcare data that is relevant to clinical research remains unstructured.


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